Councilman’s Klingon resignation story turns viral at warp speed

abell@charlotteobserver.comJanuary 4, 2014 

The story of an Indian Trail councilman who recently turned in his resignation letter in the Klingon language went viral at warp speed.

Councilman David Waddell told the Observer on Thursday he wrote to Mayor Michael Alvarez in the language of the proud warrior race from “Star Trek” as an inside joke and to have one last laugh before he left the council Jan. 31. Waddell included an English translation to the four-sentence letter.

After the Observer ran the story online, it quickly turned up on websites across the nation, such as the Huffington Post, USA Today and CNET, as well as sites around the world, from Hong Kong and Malaysia to New Zealand and Northern Ireland.

It also appeared in different languages, including Dutch, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

The story even ran on a Romanian TV website. That’s Romanian, not Romulan, by the way.

A Toronto website, which has chronicled the foibles of admitted crack-smoking Mayor Rob Ford, referenced the Indian Trail story and noted, “What we do not yet have at City Hall (as far as we know) is a politician who is familiar with the Klingon language.”

The story also exploded on Twitter, with comments ranging from “ Finally, some NC news I can be PROUD of!” by a Winston-Salem resident to a German man who tweeted “small languages are alive!”

On the Observer’s website, more than 4,500 people had recommended the story on Facebook.

Waddell, a plumber who often clashed with other council members in the suburban Charlotte community, is leaving midway through his first term.

He said he was disappointed with the way the town has handled growth and other issues, and plans to mount a write-in campaign for U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s seat on the Constitution Party’s platform.

For his part, Alvarez called the Klingon letter childish, embarrassing and unprofessional. On Saturday, the mayor said he has fielded calls from media outlets in Los Angeles, New York and Florida, and said Wadell told him he also had gotten media inquiries from all over.

“When things have a galactic or absurd quote, that’s when people pay attention,” Alvarez said. “I would’ve preferred if he had sent (a resignation letter) in English to give to the council. But I wish him luck. Live long and prosper.”

Waddell could not be reached Saturday. But on his Facebook page, he said he had not expected the amount of interest his letter generated.

“The best explanation I can come up with is that in a world of 24-hour news there is very little that is surprising anymore,” he said.

Bell: 704-358-5696; Twitter: @abell

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